Claire Metz, a staple of local news in Volusia and Flagler counties for decades, called it a career on Friday. She was bid farewell by her colleagues at WESH 2 and the communities she's covered before signing off a final time.
Metz's first on-air report for WESH aired September 22nd, 1984 regarding a citrus disease wreaking havoc on Florida's agricultural industry. The next 39 years of her career covered everything from the mundane to the morbid, the ordinary to the fantastical, the grand to the intimately personal. In November 2013 she had a gun pointed at her by a suspended police dispatcher, a level of danger which luckily she only faced that once.
Still, Metz's reporting fearlessly confronted stories where they were, giving viewers unmatched access to the events that shaped their community. Community leaders such as Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood and Volusia Deputy Beach Safety Chief Tammy Malphurs have said often times Metz would contact them about a breaking story before they themselves even knew it was occurring.
Sometimes, the stories Metz covered became sources of national intrigue. She interviewed convicted serial killer Aileen Wuornos on death row, before her story was turned into the Oscar-winning film 'Monster'. Later, she was one of the first on the story of the 2021 book bans in Flagler County school libraries that soon blossomed into a national trend.
She was also present for some of the most important cultural milestones in Central Florida, including the openings of Universal Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando. Always willing to go where she needed to in order to best report a story, Metz has crossed state and international borders in pursuit of the truth.
In her retirement, Metz has said she hopes to spend more time with her quickly-growing family. She has four children and two grandchildren, including her son Matt Metz who was elected Public Defender for the 7th Judicial Circuit.
Those who viewed Claire in her storied career of nearly four-decades will miss the clarity and calming authority she presented over the air. Those who knew her personally or who worked alongside her will surely feel the absence of the definitive veteran presence in newsrooms and press conferences around the area.